(Spooky) Scanner Adventures


I made some extra wobbly scans, which are kinda spooky and fitting for today, the spooky day. They remind me of The X-Files, which I want to watch all of immediately. I can't though, because Elliot and I watch that together. It's our special spooky show. I do have a strong memory of seeing that one episode with the bees when I was a kid and being a bit freaked out. I think I avoided The X-Files somewhat after that because it genuinely weirded me out. Anyway, to leave you with some jolly Halloween spirit, here is a ghoulish limerick:

A skeleton once ate my house
Said "you deserve it because you are scouse"
So I turned right around
Stole its bones as I frowned
And now my bone soup's on the house!








Skills

You might not know this, but I possess all sorts of fascinating attributes that make me an ideal candidate for baking/cat-sitting/data entry/engineering/being a lizard/other: _______ (delete as applicable). Here is a (non-comprehensive) list of my skills.


  1. strong affinity with woodlice
  2. good at painting a wall for two minutes before passing out and mumbling about pasta whilst unconscious
  3. can draw a funky skeleton in MSPaint
  4. people pleaser, but moreover, spider pleaser
  5. really good at lying down on a variety of surfaces
  6. strong knowledge of the inside of crisp packets
  7. can read at least four sentences before thinking about lunch
  8. sometimes able to not brush hair for two days without dying by ripping skull from head on the third day
  9. can make cool acronyms, e.g. Angry Crow, Richard, Offends New York Mother
  10. able to carry at least seven snails to safety at any one time

Can all the excited potential employers who are reading this please contact me via the email address on my contact page, and please hurry up because I've got some important crisp packets to look into.

Nice Things: Sunsets, Candles, & Samurai Dogs

It's been a while since I've done an inspiration post with a compilation of a bunch of stuff, so here is a collection of some cool things I've seen online recently. I need a nice, uplifting mood board/thing collection right now to spur me on, so please let's dive into a swimming pool full of nice things.

Samurai Dog & Traveler Cat (by Louie Zong)

Look, it's a dog and cat adventurer team standing serenely in a cool breeze. We could all learn from them.

Sunset Ring of Fire - 20th May 2012 (by Dan McGlaun)

This is truly amazing and I wanna jump through the hoop, but sadly it is not possible (because there's no hole) (that's the only reason). Honestly though, I just can't get enough of sunsets, however rare or common, they are very good.

Blue Mates, 2013 (by Louise Madzia)

I love this plate. I can see myself represented in this plate. This plate is my soul's true form. Also I just really like this sort of cheeky handmade pottery.

Moleskine page (by Micol Sinn)

I feel like this is some good advice and I try to remind myself that all feelings are temporary and I appreciate that sort of message, but also I love the way that hair is drawn. Those are some good lines. Cool lines. I am pro these lines.

Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet, 1996 (via trash-cola)

I really, really like shots of beds from above, and I also love the sheets and all the glowy candles here. Please take me to a place where I can sit among hundreds of glowy candles in peace for the rest of my life.

Other great things: this vine of a dog having some trouble with a basket, this good bench, and this picture of lots of adorable corgis.

Diary: Ancient Mushroom Wisdom


The darker nights are making me feel 60% sleepier than usual lately, but at least I got to wear my woolly tights and winter coat for the first time this week and I felt very cosy and warm doing so. I actually was way too warm walking down the street and had to rip off three layers because I felt like I was almost going to pass out. Maybe that means it's a little bit too early for winter coats, or maybe it means I went overboard on layers that day. Still, I've missed those fuzzy tights a lot, so I'm very pleased to be wearing them again.


Elliot and I had some nice lunches over the weekend and I felt this relaxed feeling come over me out of nowhere. It must have been the mushrooms transmitting their ancient mushroom wisdom to me. I've been daydreaming a lot about having a little house underneath a mountain and painting pictures of the mountain all day long. I don't know how to make my domestic mountain dream come true, but at least I can paint already.


Some television I've been watching alongside my mountain-based daydreaming includes camp university slasher series Scream Queens and women's prison drama Wentworth. The former feels very Halloween relevant and wonderfully cartoonish, whilst the latter is really unrealistic and harsh, but nevertheless compelling. Prison dramas always make me want to re-watch Bad Girls though.

Music I Grew Up To

From the moment I was born (I assume) music was really important to me. I remember being around five years old watching Pulp perform on Top Of The Pops and I decided then and there that when I grew up I wanted to be Jarvis Cocker. Sadly, I did not become a Jarvis, but I did get to realise some musical dreams and make songs, both on my own and with my band.

I had two short lived 'bands' when I was at school. The first one was a duo formed with my best friend Lucy when we were ten or eleven. We called ourselves 'Purple Moonlight' and wrote an eponymous song, which I can hazily remember the intro to. Neither of us had any sort of musical talents, but we had fun. Later on, in the middle of high school, I joined a group of girls to become the singer and tentative keyboardist of a band called 'Jeeves and the Psycho Killers'. I was Jeeves, a nickname given to me by my friend Jess, because I carried my friends' bags for them a lot. The band quickly fell apart when only one of us managed to bring an instrument to school to practice with. She wrote the one song we had, too, and it was pretty good.

Beyond failed attempts at music-making and pipe dreams of transforming into a tall man at the forefront of popular music in the 1990s, there were particular artists that shaped my formative musical atmosphere, and I would like to celebrate some of them here.


1. Pulp (and other brit pop sorts)


The whole brit pop thing was around when I was just about old enough to notice and understand it. That whole decade was wacky and childish in so many ways, so it was a fun cultural environment to actually be a child in - although it probably didn't seem so child-like at the time because it was just what was happening. But I felt some kind of kinship with the Blurs and the Pulps of the musical landscape. They were alternative enough for my sensibilities (yes, even as a six year old), but also fun enough to be immediately exciting to my tiny young brain.


2. Spice Girls


My mum wasn't best pleased by my young love of the Spice Girls, but as a slowly-enlarging amoeba, I loved them. By the time I was ten I considered myself to have outgrown them, but I can see now that they had a considerable influence on me (and I now enjoy them again because I'm not above indulging my inner child). Mel C was my favourite, and to be super serious for a minute here, I think it was so important and good for a young tomboy me to have this tomboy pop star person to admire. I always felt inspired by her, and I'm so glad she was a part of my childhood so I can feel comfortable and confident in wearing trackie bottoms and a tight ponytail whenever I want.


3. Guns N' Roses


When I was little, my mum had a huge poster of Axl Rose on the wall, and I heard a lot of Guns N' Roses when I was a small bean. They, and a few other bands my mum fixated on at the time, were a catalyst for my passionate interest in rock music, leather jackets, and motorbikes.


4. Nirvana


I feel like Nirvana are an incredibly easy band to latch onto, because they're so unique and the emotion of their songs is so present. I don't know, it’s Nirvana. My mum fell in love with them when they appeared, and so did I.


5. Def Leppard


'Hysteria' will always be one of the most important albums of my life. It's perfect in every way to me. How can I even begin to describe Def Leppard and the impact they've had on me? I feel like we should go ahead and replace mathematics with 'Def Leppard studies' in the school curriculum. The vocals and effects, the riffs, the hair and tight trousers? Everything is good about Def Leppard and I wish I could be Joe Elliott.

***

Other notable influences: Billie Piper (I can't resist that CGI rhino club bouncer in 'Beause We Want To'), Aaron Carter (I LOVED him and his helium voice), Roxette (I discovered a cassette tape of 'Look Sharp' and it changed my life), Steps (apparently I love disco, and also, ABBA), Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (they were always around).

I'm Sick

In a way there's something that feels good about being unwell because I can say I'm unwell and I can feel like a baby and I can expect some level of sympathy and coddling that is missing in the rest of my life, when I'm all “physically healthy” and gross stuff like that. There can be a strange bittersweetness to being sick.


Don't get me wrong though, I'm not about to suggest we should all start looking on the bright side of illness or something. No, I hate being sick. It's unpleasant, it's painful, and it's downright scary sometimes. If you're anything like me, the dullest twinge will remind you of your own mortality and you'll be wondering if a stray itch means you are about to drop dead. Cheerful, right?

I say all this because I've been having mad headaches lately, and they've been making me feel like an actual useless baby. You know, like all those selfish babies who are lying around, doing nothing for society, laughing cruelly at shop assistants and screaming at innocent ducks. That's like me, but marginally larger, with a head pain, and using a copy of The Guardian as an emergency handkerchief.

I long for the day when we robotically eradicate illness with engineered immune systems made of emeralds and Pierce Brosnan's tears, although I hope when this glorious future arrives I will still be allowed to lie down and wail for long periods of time and demand garlic bread and cats.

MY CHAOS


I feel like whenever I'm not in the mood for various/specific projects, or those times when my brain is on holiday, I can always do journal pages anyway. I mean, a big part of why I love journals and journalling is the casualness of filling them up. They're meant to be personal and messy and unimpressive - a way for you to figure out stuff or get things out of your head. You can be ill or sad and you can still just journal some stuff without thinking about it.

Sometimes I feel like I can't think at all. When I was a kid I used to like pretending I was a video game character. The protagonist of an RPG of my own life. I would imagine every interaction had a corresponding text box. I would imagine everything I picked up going into an inventory that I could bring up and check whenever I wanted. I think it helped me to feel like my life was more purposeful and controllable on any given day to pretend every movement and action was part of a video game narrative. That and I liked the particularity of the gestures the characters of Final Fantasy VIII made and wished my life would turn into a quest to save the world and ride huge yellow birds and read occult magazines (I love this game).

The point is, it was a nice way to avoid having thoughts for a while. My thoughts adhered to game mechanics and that was it. It was fun. I enjoy a chocolate mousse more if it becomes a key item, or restores health points. That's understandable, right?

I think there's something similar about journalling and pretending you're a video game protagonist. Both are ways to organise your thoughts and process your day/life, and both are ways of putting yourself on auto-pilot a bit. Or they were/are for me, at least. I dunno, I just know that I don't really need full consciousness to journal and I'm happy that there are things like this that I can do absentmindedly.






Brush Strokes


I've been thinking about brush strokes again lately. The movement they so clearly take the shape of is so great. I look at them, separate from whatever thing they're a part of, and I love 'em. They can be metaphors for so many things. I kinda think of myself like a brush stroke. Curling and uneven and messy.


I wanted to make some paintings that were just that. A sprawling kind of simple. An ease of movement and purpose, spreading colours in these wispy shapes. I kinda admire them too. Like maybe they're what I want to be. Maybe I should be more like them.


Sometimes I don't think of myself simply enough. It's easy to overcomplicate something like life or yourself as a person. It's easy to worry that you're too this or that, or that you're dying, or that your days aren't planned out right. We get to decide something about what it means to be people. Sometimes I hate being a person. Sometimes I love it. Sometimes I'm indifferent and concentrating on fictional characters instead (currently Beatrice Prior and Tobias Eaton).

There's always a little something about singular brush strokes that I'd like to emulate.


5 Things To Remember

  1. You can make as many beautiful new memories as you want. New fruits will always be growing and you will always be able to eat them. The sun rises every day. Keeping objects and smells can make memories more tangible, so you can carry a memory around in something. It's a good idea.
  2. You don't have to have a clear goal to do something. Just do stuff. Just try things out and see how it goes.
  3. Painting doesn't have to mean anything beyond moving paint around on a page. You don't have to make a picture. You don't have to make something good. It's just putting paint somewhere. That's all it has to be.
  4. Squeezing thing feels good, in general. Squeeze a pillow like it's your husband who just returned from a sea voyage after ten years.
  5. Almost anything can be interesting if you look at it the right way. Including Bargain Hunt and snails.

Sad For No Reason

What kind of evil bodily imperative would push a person into thick waves of sadness? Why is it a thing to have a feeling that can't help you? That kind of stinging sadness that makes you feel like a well inside. A reservoir of dull ache deep in your chest. Like you're keeping a bird in your ribcage and it keeps flying into your bones. Sometimes I feel it prickling around the edges of me like pins and needles.


At least when there's some obvious reason it can feel right. Almost a relief because you know you're supposed to feel that bird. You know something has made it so you deserve to keep that bird trapped for a while. But when I'm lying somewhere comfortable and doing something fun and somehow I remember the inevitability of death, for example, I don't understand. I have trapped this bird in my ribcage for no reason.


I don't know, I don't know, I guess there's worry inside me that I don't really understand and will never understand. Something in my blood and muscle that will just be there to pull on me sometimes. Fear of death and fear of the dark are logical fears. You can't will them away. You just learn to deal with them. That's what you have to do with some things. Accept your pain. Hold it gently and pat it down with your fingers until it becomes a sphere, and you know every part of it.


Pain, sadness, guilt, fear, worry. They're all birds trapped in my ribcage. If I take care of them they can fly away on excursions and whenever they come back I can sit with them and tell them stories and cry. And they sit still with me for a while. And it's okay.

Diary: Cat Soup & Les Revenants


This week I watched the beautiful short film Cat Soup, which features lots of Dali-esque melting landscapes and plenty of cartoon dismemberment. It's one of those things I've been meaning to watch for a long time, and I'm so glad I got around to it. It has this sort of lilting style that makes it feel like instead of watching it, you're falling through it.

I've been kinda ill with weird headaches, but they seem to have totally disappeared now, which is really great and I hope it stays that way. It's been harder for me to do a lot of things since they were pretty relentless. I've been trying to go for walks and watch films because I can do those things easily when I'm sore and tired, and they're relaxing.


The weekend was good, because I started to feel a lot better, and Elliot made some amazing macaroni and cheese, which soothed me a lot (my stomach is rumbling at the thought of it). Les Revenants also finally returned (no pun intended) to TV, and I love it because it kinda rolls along in this brooding way and it's so satisfying to watch (even though I wish I knew more of what was going on).


I've been feeling so wintry as well because the cold and the darkness have come rushing in, so I suppose Les Revenants coming back now makes perfect sense in that its dark and gloomy atmosphere suits the time of year and the general feel I'm getting from my surroundings at the moment. I keep thinking of home decorating and homemade food for some reason. I feel a strange desire to cook a stew.

The Moon & Sleep-Talking

I saw a thing recently, somewhere, that said that if you feel alone you should look at the moon and know someone else out there is looking at it too. I love that a lot. Celestial bodies definitely make me feel more connected to the EARTH and all the stuff on it (except Minions, I do not feel connected to Minions). The moon is good. The moon is my telephone. Sort of.


I always want to put the moon in so many stories. It hovers in my thoughts. I draw it a lot for this reason. It makes me think again that everything is about stories. Pictures are exciting because they emit a story. There is something story-like about them. They are story squares, but you have to figure out the story from what you see. My blog is also a sequence of stories. Sometimes I feel like my blog is like when I start talking in my sleep. Sometimes I talk in my sleep, but I sit up and open my eyes and talk to someone about something that doesn't make sense. And when I wake up in the morning I remember doing it, but I know I was fast asleep with my eyes wide open. It's like sleepwalking, but without the walking. Sleepsitting, maybe.

Once I was sleeping in a room with my aunt and in the middle of the night I told her "your eye looks much better". She was wearing an eye patch at the time because of an eye thing she had. I didn't see her eye at all, but I guess I surveyed it in a dream state. Another time when I was little and furiously reading Fantastic Mr. Fox (my favourite book at the time), my mum heard me one night when I was asleep crying, "the three farmers are gonna get me!" Yeah, I remember being quite intensely concerned that the foxes were about to get caught in that book, and I wanted to be one of them too.


Despite all the nonsense of those, they remind me of writing here a little bit, because I feel half asleep and in a trance sometimes when I write here. I feel like half the time I'm writing faster than I can think. I really like that, though. It feels so pure, like I've plugged a USB into my brain and I'm thinking about crow societies and what it must be like to be a crow, or the history of digestive biscuits, or my favourite German words, and that's what you're gonna read about. Like I've dived into a Pinterest full of 1990s trivia and constellation names and stuff and then I throw a few of those things at you with some annotations and a photo of me, grinning.

I think that's a good vibe.

Book Review: The Hunger Games (Series) - Suzanne Collins

★★★★: A concise world of bittersweet terror and triumph with perfect style, suspense, and resolution.


[spoiler free/mild details]

I know I am so late to this party that the party poppers have had grandchildren, but I am here defiantly wearing a party hat and demanding champagne, according to the party analogy. I did not expect anything spectacular from this series, but after picking it up I was so pleasantly surprised by the depth and consistency of these books.

First of all, Katniss is a million times more relatable than I could have ever hoped for. She's stubborn and distrusting and she always wears a plait and she doesn't care about being pretty and she thinks ripping hair out of your body is kinda weird and romance is confusing and inconvenient to her given her circumstances. For all her strength and value in the world and the communities she inhabits, for all her cleverness, she's guilty and angry and confused and upset but nevertheless capable. She feels like a very realistic character and I absolutely love her (and yeah, I kinda wanna put my hair in a plait and wear a Mockingjay pin now).

I thought the three books were really nicely balanced, each around the same length and ending at sensible points. The pacing, style, and twists of each book kept me hooked, and I felt such a strong connection with several characters.

The last book was my favourite, mostly because the ending was perfect to me. Katniss' losses and struggles and hurts are thick and cloying, but equally we see beauty, we see her bravery, and there is a purity of heart in her. Everyone is characterised so well. I hate detestable characters very easily, but the questionable nature of the various personalities in this series left me feeling the same way I do about complex people in real life - frustrated at their transgressions and fond of them at the same time. I like the way these books take me through personalities in a way that lets me cycle through dislike and pride and relief and love for them. There is a well constructed sense of intrigue and so much of the exposition across these novels slapped me in the face in the most exciting and sudden way.

Some details I enjoyed:

  • Katniss being pretty indifferent to her body hair and not too enthused to have it removed - I thought this was such a nice touch
  • The way Katniss pushed the romance away to focus on everything else going on around her - I thought this was so good because yes, she's seventeen, it's confusing, manipulation and war get in the way of it and distort it and I loved that entire dynamic. She has bigger fish to fry, but that one fish - the romance fish (I hope you're enjoying this fish analogy) - is left flopping about in the back of her brain. I just thought it was such a realistic and smart way to include it.
  • Mutts - these creatures are so smartly revealed and so fascinating and so sinister.
  • A general diversity of characters, attitudes, and motives that feels rich.
  • Finnick - Finnick is great. That's all.


I totally understand the hype now, because this has become another Harry Potter to me in that I know I will treasure it.

Individual ratings:

The Hunger Games     ★★★★
Catching Fire              ★★★★
Mockingjay                ★★★★

Delicious Words

Sometimes I imagine that I can eat words, slurp 'em up like a big mouthful of spaghetti. I can feel myself hungry for poems, fantasies, worlds, thoughts. It must be a common desire to read everything possible, to know everything possible. I remember being a little kid and wanting to read every book in the world. I wouldn't go that far these days, because some books I'm sure I'm better off without, but the thought still stands. Gotta eat all those books.


I'm so into YA fiction lately. I like the standard length of these kinds of books, and I like the whole dystopian fiction genre. It feels great to read whole books quickly, racing through them. They're so good. When I was in middle school I read all these books with yellow edges and banana motifs on the endpapers. They were called Banana Books, and I read them back to back. I must have read most of the ones they had at school. I don't remember the individual books, but I remember how much I needed to keep reading and reading. It was like a kind of hunger, and it still is. Deep inside me there is a dragon feeding off words. A demon chewing up letters and recycling them in a scary industrial complex that churns out sentences fast. I feel like a conveyor belt. I dunno man, it feels almost mechanical how much I need to read and write. Like in horror films when a ghost moves its arms so fast that they're a terrifying blur. That's me on my laptop talking about giving strawberries names, or being two years old and having a stupid memory, or staring at ripples in a puddle.


I'm some poltergeist of writing about stuff. It does feel almost like it controls me. I know I am literally possessed by my own brain because that's how bodies work and stuff, but so much of it is so automatic and compulsive that it's funny to actually give it some thought. Because despite how much I think about and analyse my own behaviour and thoughts in order to write about them, there is so much writing that feels almost without consciousness. Come to think of it, is sleepwriting a thing?

Purpose

When I was seventeen I discovered existentialism. I read Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre and Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse and saw myself in those books as if I had somehow curled up inside the letters. I felt a certain kinship with wolves and woods, and a certain distance from the people around me. I was instantly comforted by the philosophical intellectualism of the pointlessness of existence. My friends from school and I started our tentative journeys into separate lives and I felt a hazy loneliness poking me rudely with a stick. I sort of forced myself to believe that I was happy and that everything was fine and that those books and ideas were all I needed to be totally cool with all that 'being an adult' stuff.


Looking back, I was mostly just confused and upset. About who I was and who I was turning into. About the sudden complete change in my life after so many years of school. Those books were what I used to cope, but they didn't solve anything. I guess they latched onto my analytical nature, and I felt like they sparked a better understanding of life. Maybe it would have been best if I could have climbed inside those books and stayed there for years, instead of stumbling into adulthood in the open. Regardless, they were a catalyst for something and I think they helped to push me towards, well - me.

When I think about the past I feel like two people at once. I can remember being that person, but at the same time I can't. It's completely disorientating. I can't remember or understand that person's perceptions or motives. Actually sometimes it feels disgusting, like I have continually been re-emerging from an old skin, escaping some alien mass. And sometimes I feel like I will always be wrong, like right in my core lies some rotten thing that ultimately is the pure me. I don't know what that's about. It's a weird concoction of guilt and fear.


Sometimes I wish I was a video game character and I could just max out my level through relentless grinding and then know that I was done growing. That there was nothing else that could change me. Maybe this is why sometimes I like to max out my characters near the beginning of a game so I can breeze through the whole thing ridiculously overpowered. On the other hand, I'm sure I'm my most capable self so far. I know I understand more than I've ever understood before. About myself, about living, and about the mating habits of pigeons. And I understand that I will never eliminate fear or guilt or sadness, but that I will be stronger, more knowledgeable, and more like the person I want to be as time goes on. So please prepare yourself for six hundred future posts detailing pigeons' personal relationships.

Mud Pies

I have remembered mud pies a couple of times recently and it seems criminal that I have forgotten mud pies for so long, that I haven't made a mud pie in so many years. What was it about digging a hole in the ground, pouring a lot of water into it, and smooshing it all up? What was that all about? I say that, but I can feel ir, I can see and smell and feel the delight. If I just think about it, all of it comes back, as if I was born to make mud pies and I am finally looping around to that realisation. My true calling is to be some dirty garden chef, making an incredible worm meal, or like, just messing up their home space.

Me and some other kids probably thinking about how good we are at mud pies.

I dunno man, I just feel like I miss making them a lot. Why do I have this urge to pretend to eat wet dirt as a fully grown human? I remembered mud pies and immediately wondered why that wasn't a thing that I was still doing, with a couple of friends huddled around, maybe throwing a little bit of grass in to add 'flavour', maybe fetching me a good stick, but ultimately miming the feverish chomping and slurping of the best meal in the world when I'm done.

Me, thinking about all the mud I can scoop from my surroundings. Or more realistically, I'm probably thinking about my Game Boy.

But then how could I even do that? Even if I had managed to gather a few fully grown adult humans who wanted to enthusiastically pretend to eat mud with me, how would we be able to actually sit down on the ground and prepare our fake meal without feeling like the weirdest and silliest people on earth? Please, all I want to do is run away from society forever and commit myself to the mud pie endeavour that I was so clearly destined to carry out. Don't inform the authorities.